This week, the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center will dedicate an exhibit that has been a long time coming.
The new, 5,100-square-foot space will display the infantry’s early history from 1775 to 1889 — the part of the branch’s history that’s been missing from the museum until now.
Budgetary limitations stalled the completion of the Revolutionary War and Civil War galleries until 2009. Then, in 2011, the museum offered part of the original concept’s space to the armor branch that hosts its school at Fort Benning.
After eight years, the museum’s original concept and desire to showcase this crucial part of our country’s military history has finally come to fruition. The new exhibit, “Securing Our Freedom/Defining the Nation,” boasts over 175 artifacts from the time period.
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“This time period set the stage for everything that has followed over the past 242 years,” said Greg Camp, the National Infantry Museum Foundation’s president. “We are thrilled to finally be able to share this chapter of Infantry history.”
Patrons can expect to begin their visit to the exhibition with information about the days leading up to the Revolutionary War. The exhibit then takes visitors from 1775 all the way through the end of the Frontier Indian Wars. Rare and precious artifacts contained in the exhibit include numerous rifles, muskets, a mountain howitzer used in the Mexican-American War, a James gun from the Civil War, and a highly anticipated look at a Gatling Gun from the Frontier Indian Wars.
The new gallery is being formally dedicated in a ceremony open to the public on June 14 at 10 a.m. This date was chosen because it marks the Army’s 242nd birthday. The keynote speaker will be Lt. Gen. Tom Metz, chairman of the National Infantry Museum Board of Directors.
Patrons should know that two of the museum’s rarest artifacts are on display in the new gallery — a pair of two large silk regimental and national flags from the 2nd United States Colored Troops. The flags are on display for the first time and are expected to be a highlight of the new exhibit.
Maneuver Center of Excellence Museums Chief Dave Hanselman said that the gallery is intended to inform and educate the public in addition to fulfilling the mission of supporting Infantry training at Fort Benning.
“The underlying theme of the gallery,” he said, “is how ever-evolving technologies have dictated ever-evolving training since the infantry’s earliest days.”
If you go
What: “Securing Our Freedom/Defining the Nation”
When: Opens June 14 for permanent exhibition
Where: National Infantry Museum, 1775 Legacy Way
Cost: No admission fee, but a $5 is requested.
Call: 706-685-5800 or nationalinfantrymuseum.org